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Missoula quilters guild: Scores of squares on display at Big Sky
Sue Olinger, left, and Phyllis Scobie decide which quilt to pin up first Thursday in preparation for the biennual quilt show at Big Sky High School. Scobie is one of two featured quilters in the Missoula Quilters Guild, a community quilting club that sets up the show.
Photo by ASHLEY McKEE/Missoulian

Boy Scout Troop 1904 is spending a couple of nights in Big Sky High School this week with a pile of quilts to keep them company.

Actually, with more than 400 quilts on display, the Missoula Quilters Guild didn't want to chance having any of them stolen. So they called in the Boy Scouts to guard the quilts, said Jackie Lukasik, guild co-chair with Debbie Gross.

Big Sky's two gyms, cafeteria and a connecting hallway are filled with quilted creations hanging from tall wooden frames. It's all part of the Missoula Quilters Guild's biennial show Friday and Saturday.

Quilters, nearly all of them from western Montana, were able to enter their work. Most are from the Bitterroot area, Lukasik said, with an occasional out-of-state entry. Quilted clothing items and home decor are also a part of the show.

There are 26 different quilt categories, ranging from Missoula-themed to holiday and seasonal.

Three quilts from each category will receive a ribbon for first, second and third place.

People who pay the $4 admission fee to the show Friday are encouraged to vote for their favorite quilts in each category. On Friday evening, the guild members will tally the votes and the ribbons will be on the winning quilts Saturday morning.

The main purpose of the show is "to promote quilting for people's enjoyment and to preserve and promote a craft," Lukasik said. "It's fun to have other people see our work."

The last three quilt shows have been in the University Center Ballroom at the University of Montana.

Moving the show to Big Sky made it possible to offer food to the viewers.

The show includes more than just quilts. There are 21 vendors from various quilt stores set up around the perimeter of the cafeteria, a boutique area where

10 percent of the profits will go to the guild, and a silent auction with items that include a hope chest and a clock case.

A Quilts 4 Kids table is set up in the hallway, where all the donated quilts will be given to sick and traumatized children. In honor of the Missoula Quilters Guild's 25th anniversary, the winning quilts from past shows are also on display in the east gym.

Filling most of the hallway are quilts displayed by two featured quilters: Elaine Rose of Frenchtown and Phyllis Scobie of Stevensville, chosen by co-chairs Lukasik and Gross.

Rose and Scobie share a love for quilting, but have different styles when it comes to the details.

Rose's 70 displayed quilts are mostly machine-quilted, while Scobie's 25 quilts are all quilted by hand.

Rose likes batik fabric and Scobie prefers country-colored and plaid fabrics.

"I like to reproduce antique quilts of the '30s," Scobie said.

She started quilting about 18 years ago in a small quilting group. She has made about 50 quilts with many more unfinished at home.

Most of Scobie's quilts are displayed on beds and walls throughout her house.

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Rose started quilting about 25 years ago when she became disabled and needed a hobby while she was at home.

"I just started and then you get addicted," she said.

She has finished at least 200 quilts with "a lot of UFOs - they call them unfinished objects" at home, Rose said.

Like Scobie, Rose's quilts aren't for sale.

"With six children and 19 grandchildren, there's plenty of gifts to go around," Rose said.

The show also has three different raffles. Two big baskets of fabrics, one with batiks and the other with bright-colored fabrics, will be up for grabs. There will be another raffle for a bright red Singer Featherweight sewing machine, and one for the bed-sized, Missoula-themed quilt made by the Missoula Quilters Guild. All profits will go to the guild, a nonprofit organization, to help pay for the show and support Quilts 4 Kids.

Amy Faxon is a newsroom intern for the Missoulian. She is a journalism student at the University of Montana.

Catch the quilts

"Missoula Through a Quilter's Eye," sponsored by the Missoula Quilters Guild, will be Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day at Big Sky High School. Tickets are $4.

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